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Michael Monheit
Michael Monheit
Attorney • (215) 840-6573

Scuba Diving On Vacation – Did you waive your rights?

2 comments

Anyone who has taken or is planning a vacation to Hawaii has likely seen countless promotions for adventurous activities available to tourists who want to add a special experience to their trips. One of the most common activities promoted in Hawaii is SCUBA diving. Going on a SCUBA dive and getting to visit one of our world’s underwater habitats can be a fascinating experience as you get to see ocean wildlife in a very intimate way.

While a SCUBA dive has the potential to be the most memorable part of your vacation, it is an activity that carries inherent risks of injury or even death, meaning that for some, this exhilarating activity can become a tragic and life-altering moment.

Of course, to prevent tragic accidents, dive companies and dive masters are required to meet certain standards of care when providing services to tourists. For example, the dive masters must: be aware of all divers at all times, make responsible assessments of water and weather conditions; and make responsible determinations about the difficulty of a particular dive in relation to the divers’ experience and comfort level. In addition, as a participant in a SCUBA diving excursion, you should expect your dive master to have certain credentials and to provide specific instructions to you.

First, you dive instructor or master should have proof of certification from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.[** See Comment below.] This certification is evidence that the instructor has gone through a rigorous process to learn about and practice SCUBA diving, and that they possess certain water skills and physical requirements.

Your dive instructor should also educate you about SCUBA diving, and explain to you how the SCUBA gear functions. Once you have received some basic instruction, you will take a practice dive in a pool and then a short dive with your instructor in open water.

Most likely, before you ever step foot in any water, the excursion company will require you to sign a waiver of liability. The basic liability waiver requires you to acknowledge that you understand the inherent risks of SCUBA diving and that you assume responsibility for those risks. In essence, this waiver is intended to protect the company from liability in the event of injury or death. While you can only participate if you sign this waiver, its important to understand that if your diving adventure ends poorly, you have not waived all your rights and you might still be able to recover against the tour operator. For example, the company is not protected from gross negligence. They may also still be liable for equipment failures, injuries that occur on the boat and not in the water, or a dive that was inappropriate for your experience level.

Wayne Parsons, Esq., an attorney in Hawaii, has experience with Scuba Diving cases. I have worked with Wayne on numerous legal issues on a national basis and he is able to assist people who have been harmed ocean injury cases, including admiralty, maritime, Jones Act, scuba diving and boating accidents.

2 Comments

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  1. Michael Feld says:
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    Despite what your article seems to imply, although there are dangers relating to scuba diving, there are with just about any sport. Skiing, snowboarding and other extreme sports entail their own risks and seemingly get a pass as compared to diving, which gets undue focus as a sport with risks. Even sports not considered to be extreme have risks; one can get badly hurt in a batting cage or riding a bike.

    Furthermore, you should be more careful with your facts regarding dive associations and who is qualified to lead dives. PADI is just one of numerous dive associations, and by suggesting that a dive master or instructor needs credentials from PADI is extremely misleading and not correct. I am quite sure that dive masters and instructors from NAUI, SSI, SDI, CMAS, BSAC, ACUC and others would take exception to being left out as equally legitimately trained and qualified to lead dives as any from PADI.

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    ** Comment on Certifications:

    There are many highly qualified diving associations. PADI, mentioned above, is just one of the ones that certifies instructors and masters. Others that provide for credntials include: NAUI, SSI, SDI, CMAS, BSAC, ACUC. I regret that I had not name some of these others in the original article and invite comments below about each of them and their programs, education, and certification processes.

    For example, the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI Worldwide)is the second largest diver training and certificaiton organization and the largest non-profit organization. It was established over 50 years ago and is clearly dedicated to dive safety through education.